Fall is for planting. The cooler months provide an optimum time for adding plants to your landscape. There are several benefits to fall planting. With an increase in rainfall and cooler temperatures, less watering is needed. As shoot growth slows, plants require less water because the days are cooler and shorter, and the rate of photosynthesis decreases. Stable air temperatures also promote rapid root development. Soils stay warm well after the air temperature cools, also encouraging root growth. During shoot dormancy, trees and shrubs continue to establish and strengthen roots. Trees and shrubs planted in the fall are better equipped to deal with heat and drought in the following season.
First Things First
Plant and site selection will be important. Be sure that the plants you’ve selective will thrive in the site that you plan on installing it into. Poorly sited plants are doomed from the start. There are many factors you need to consider such as amount of sunlight, space for growth, and soil. If the plant requires full sun, do not plant it in shady/partial shady areas. It the plant needs well drained soil, avoid planting in wet areas or poorly draining clay. If your plant will need a lot of space when it is mature, make sure that there is room for it to grow, both underground and above ground.
Proper Planting Techniques
Once you’ve selected your planting, proper installation is paramount to the survival and long term health of your plants. Many issues on plants performing poorly stem from being planted improperly.
Dig shallow planting holes two to three times as wide as the root ball. Wide shallow holes encourage horizontal root growth. This will help with quick establishment. Don’t dig holes deeper than the root ball. The top of the root ball should be one to two inches above the soil, if planted too deep girdling roots can occur.
Back fill the hole with existing unamended soil. Resist the urge to incorporate peat moss, potting soils and other organic matter, as differences is pore size can create problems during establishment. Back fill half of the soil, then water thoroughly to settle out air pockets. Finish backfilling and then water again.
The Finishing Touches
Mulching, a little goes along way. Two to three inches is best. Be sure to mulch over the exposed portion of the root ball, only about an inch deep though. You’ll want to avoid pilling up mulch on the trunks and shrub stems, this prevents disease, insect and rodent damage.
Remove the tags from your plants and place them in a notebook. The tags are great for cataloging your plant material and they also have great info on the proper care of your new plants. Knowing how much water it will need, when it should be pruned, and even the signs of stress or disease are all invaluable in caring for the plants in your landscape.
If you have any other questions about installing new plants please feel free to call our tree and shrub experts.